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Best Local History & Culture in New York

, 17 Options Found

This impressive Fifth Avenue mansion was once the home of coke and steel magnate Henry Clay Frick. It was the Frick family's wish that his art collection remain on display there after his death. Built in 1914, the mansion was made to look much older. The gilded, ornamental décor is the perfect setting for exhibits which include masterpieces by Vermeer, Goya and Rembrandt. Stroll in the tranquility of the beautiful outdoor garden. Please note children under the age of 10 are not permitted in the collection.

The New York Transit Museum is housed in an authentic decommissioned 1930s 60,000 square foot bi-level subway station in Brooklyn Heights. It is the custodian of the most extensive collection of urban transportation materials in the United States. The New York Transit Museum, is one of only a few museums in the world dedicated to telling the story of urban mass transit, from the people who developed it and are served by it to the city and region it has helped to shape. The Museum boasts a collection of vintage subway trains, along with a wide array of exhibits, programs, film screenings and workshops.

Located in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, this national and city landmark was the home of New Orleans jazz icon Louis Armstrong during the latter half of his life. Today, the house also operates as a museum, where much of the house and its furnishings remain just the way Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, left it. The museum is shown only through guided tours, which last 40 minutes and begin every hour. The tour takes visitors through the house, while also playing audio clips from Armstrong's life, such as him practicing his trumpet or eating a meal, among other things. After the 40-minute tour, visitors are welcome to explore the exhibit area and a Japanese garden.

The very beautifully preserved Merchant's House Museum shows how New York's merchant class lived in the 1800s. The brick townhouse was built in 1832 in the Greek-Revival style. Three years later, a successful merchant by the name of Seabury Tredwell bought the property, and it housed his family for generations. Today, visitors can see just how the family lived in the 19th Century. The kitchen and the fixtures are original, and in fact, all the furniture was used by this family.

Ellis Island is the second island in New York Bay, Liberty Island is the most famous one, where you can see the majestic Statue of Liberty. Between 1892 and 1954, over 12-million immigrants disembarked upon Ellis, thus pioneering the immigration movement that is of significant importance to the country's history. The Main Building has architecture reminiscent of the Beaux Arts style, and though the establishment fell into decay in the mid-20th Century, most of the buildings were restored to their original splendor. Spanning over three floors, it is home to a well-preserved collection of photographs, videos, artifacts and interactive exhibits that reflect American heritage. Explore the Wall of Honor that is engraved with a partial list of names of processed immigrants.

A prominent landmark of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe to the United States, the Eldridge Street Synagogue houses the Museum at Eldridge Street. It is the founders of this museum who took the initiative of a massive renovation and restoration project on the synagogue, and are solely responsible for the majestic glory in which it stands today. The museum tells the tale of how the synagogue came to be founded, storing vast collections of artifacts and documents that are valuable to the Jewish history in the country. There are walking tours and other programs organized by the museum which take visitors through the various aspects of the synagogue's existence. See the website or call for more information.

The Tenement Museum was founded in 1988 by historians Ruth Abram and Anita Jacobson to commemorate the country's immigration culture. This unassuming apartment building on the iconic Orchard Street is home to inspiring stories. These stories speak of the persistence of generations of immigrants who came to New York City starting in the 1800s to build their lives from scratch with limited resources. Take a guided tour to get a glimpse of the life new immigrants experienced in Chinatown, Little Italy and Manhattan's Lower East Side through photographic exhibitions, displays of personal belongings and memorabilia.

The Ground Zero Museum Workshop was established in 2005 by Gary Marlon Suson to commemorate the memories of those who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy, and also honors those who helped rebuild the site. Marlon Suson was the official photographer at that time and remained at the site to record the recovery process. The museum houses his collection and documentaries on the tragedy as well as remnants from the site. Lucky visitors can even have Mr. Suson himself recounting his experience. This museum, which is open daily, is a true memorial to the innocent lives lost, making it a must visit. Advance reservations are required.

The Old Stone House is an archetype of a Dutch stone farmhouse with a very rich history. The exhibit at the Old Stone House tells the story of The Battle of Brooklyn, which was the largest battle of the Independence War, and of the heroic acts by the Americans involved. OSH prides itself in being a part of Brooklyn's history and is involved in serving the community by conducting family friendly events. It also hosts cultural events like readings by young and emerging writers, acts by theater groups and concerts by jazz and rock bands. It is also used as an education resource and museum. The Center exhibit, the Battle Of Brooklyn, 1776, is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays and to groups by appointment. They also rent their Great Room which is on the second floor for kids’ parties, weddings, concerts, lectures, bar mitzvahs and more. You can visit the website for more details.

From its colonization by the Dutch up to the present day, the evolution of New York City is explained at this Manhattan museum. Established in 1923, the Museum of the City of New York houses hundreds of thousands of photographs, prints and paintings, as well as numerous special exhibitions on the city. Down in the basement, there are antique paintings, safety equipment and maps. Special tours can also be arranged for students and other groups. Check out the museum store to pick up cool merchandise like clothes, books, gifts and more.

The monumental Alice Austen House located in Staten Island. Also famously referred as Clear Comfort, it was home to ace photographer Alice Austen. In the light of the present day, it stands as a house museum that hosts school programs, photography camps and day trips. It has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is also included in the National Register of Historic Places.

The New York City Fire Museum is an ode to those at the forefront of the city's safety. Having shifted base a number of times since its inception, the museum now occupies a refurbished firehouse dating back to 1904. The collection on display features steam engines, model fire trucks, cutting edge fire-fighting equipment and gear from the late 18th Century to the present day. The fire related artifacts and memorabilia celebrate the trajectory of the FDNY and honor its heritage. Pay your respects to the 343 firefighters that lost their lives in the 9/11 terror attacks and view objects recovered from Ground Zero. Engage yourself with stories of courage narrated by retired firemen as well as a fire safety education session.

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